5 Free things to do in Hong Kong

While Hong Kong has some of the highest accommodation prices anywhere in the world, the city still has a lot to offer those on a budget. Because the minimum wage in Hong Kong 34.5HKD per hour (approximately $4.40 USD), there is a need to cater to Hong Kongers who don’t have cash to spare. The result is a city with a multitude of free attractions and things to do that won’t cost you a penny. Here are five of the best free things to do in Hong Kong.

Museums

Hong Kong Museum of History, one of Hong Kong’s many museums located in Hung Hom, photo courtesy Curious Atlas

Hong Kong has some fantastic museums. While most museums charge a nominal fee, many of Hong Kong’s museums offer free entry on Wednesdays, including the brilliant Hong Kong Science Museum and the Hong Kong History Museum, both located in Hung Hom. The equally great Hong Kong Space museum is about 10 minutes away, towards Hong Kong harbour. The Hong Kong History Museum offers an intriguing look at the city’s development from its start as a simple non-descript fishing village to the huge metropolis the city is today. You will see the extent the city has changed in the past 100 years. The Hong Kong Science Museum is a fun filled day for children and adults alike. The museum features over 400 displays, most of which are hands on and interactive. The Space Museum also has interactive exhibits that people of all ages will enjoy. There are numerous other museums deserving a visit dotted all over Hong Kong, including the Hong Kong Art Museum, the Hong Kong Heritage Museum, the obscure Hong Kong Museum of Ethnology in Tai Po to the Hong Kong Correctional Services Museum in Stanley. There’s bound to be a museum for everyone!

 Abandoned Hong Kong

View of Tsing Ma Bridge from the deserted fishing village of Ma Wan, photo/courtesy Curious Atlas

 While Hong Kong is not known for its abandoned suburbs in the same way that Tokyo is, there are several enclaves that are virtual ghost towns. Surprising in a city with some of the highest housing prices in the world! One abandoned area is in Ma Wan, a small island once a thriving fishing and shrimping village. Upon completion of the Tsing Ma Bridge, the area was ‘upgraded’ to a luxury suburb. As a result all the residents of the dilapidated Ma Wan were bought out or relocated in an attempt to gentrify the area. The plan hasn’t yet materialized. The result: an abandoned town which is fascinating to explore. Some houses are sealed off with no trespassing signs: however, others are easily accessible. The area has an eerie feel, but is a great exploration ground especially if you’re into photography. Many Hong Kongers come down to take their pre-wedding photographs here.

Flower Market

free things to do in Hong Kong - Hong Kong Flower Market is in full bloom at any time of year, photo courtesy Curious Atlas

Hong Kong Flower Market is in full bloom at any time of year, photo/ourtesy Curious Atlas

Hong Kong has a street for everything you want to buy, from flowers to electronics and even meat or birds. One of the most interesting is Flower Market Street, home to dozens of flower shops and wholesalers. Even for a non-flower enthusiast, it’s a fascinating place to spend a morning admiring the arrangements on display. If you really want to see the best flower displays imaginable then it’s worth going on a holiday, such as Valentine’s Day or Chinese New Year when you’ll see throngs of Hong Konger’s choosing flowers to bring them luck for the upcoming year. Expect to see lots of bright colours, especially reds, as these are considered to be particularly lucky. The Market is open from 7:30am seven days a week, and closes around 5pm.  

Victoria Peak

View from Victoria Peak offers a stunning panorama of Hong Kong, photo/courtesy Curious Atlas

No visit to Hong Kong is complete without a trip up to Victoria Peak. This viewpoint, close to the built up centre of the city, offers unrivaled views over Hong Kong Island. If you’re there at 8pm you can witness the nightly Symphony of Lights, named the “World’s Largest Permanent Light and Sound Show” by the Guinness Book of World Records. Spotlights and coloured lasers light up over 40 buildings in a show celebrating Hong Kong’s diversity and energy. The show is spectacular! While many take the 12-minute journey up the peak on the funicular, it’s completely possible to avoid the crowds and climb to the top. The 552-meter Old Peak Road, located at the rear of the Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens, takes you to the viewpoint. Beware, it’s a tough walk and the road is steep and winding; bring water if you’re ascending in summer. The view is worth the effort!

Hiking

The view from the top of Hong Kong’s iconic Lion rock, photo/courtesy Curious Atlas

Despite being one of the world’s most densely populated cities, Hong Kong is home to some world class hiking. Unless you’ve gotten out and explored the country parks you can’t claim to have seen Hong Kong in all its splendour. The city has a great variety of hiking trails. From remote hikes in Sai Kung (you need a boat to reach the trails) to hikes such Lion Rock, that start in the crowded suburbs of Tai Wai or Wong Tai Sin. You’re never far away from some truly spectacular scenery. Tai Mo Shan is Hong Kong’s highest and most interesting peak to hike. The hike up this extinct volcano is fascinating in its own right. The rocks leading up to the summit still vent hot air which the locals refer to as’ Dragons Breath’. Wherever you’re staying in Hong Kong there’s bound to be an interesting hike within easy reach.

What are your favorite free things to do in Hong Kong?

Here are some suggestions from National Geographic.

UK native William Maddicott now lives in Hong Kong where he works arranging holidays for expats living in Asia. When he’s not working he’s busy exploring Asia’s hidden gems. His  travel advice to young backpackers and those travelling on a budget has been published in The Guardian. His blog, Curious Atlas, is a personal account of some of the world’s best hidden sights and attractions. You can also keep up to date with him on Facebook.

Read more posts from our free things to do series:

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Top 9 Free Things to do in Auckland, New Zealand 
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